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Microsoft KB Archive/102438

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Excel: Methods for Conserving GDI Resources

The information in this article applies to:

  • Microsoft Excel for Windows, versions 2.x, 3.0, 4.0, 4.0a, 5.0


The following messages usually indicate a shortage of memory in the Windows graphics device interface (GDI) memory heap:

  • Not enough system resources to display completely.


  • Out of memory.


  • Not enough memory to print.

This article discusses methods you can use to conserve GDI memory.


Several factors in both Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Windows can impact the amount of available GDI memory space at any given time. Some of the situations described below are controlled by Microsoft Excel, while others are controlled by Microsoft Windows.

In Microsoft Excel for Windows, version 5.0, system resources are only used for one window of resources regardless of the number of sheets open.

Note that these methods are not shown in any particular order. Also, note that using any (or all) of these methods does not guarantee that more GDI memory space will be available.

To Conserve GDI Memory in Windows

  • Use Program Manager as your shell. Although there are many other shell programs available, many of these are more graphics-intensive than Program Manager and may use more GDI memory space.

1. To change your shell to Program Manager, change the "Shell=" line in the [boot] section of the SYSTEM.INI file to read:


2. Restart Windows to activate the new shell.

  • Run as few other Windows programs (screen savers, utilities, applications, etc.) as possible. Other programs use varying amounts of GDI memory, particularly some graphics-intensive screen savers and applications. To make sure that there are no applications running besides Program Manager and Microsoft Excel:

1. Locate the LOAD= and RUN= lines in the [windows] section of the WIN.INI file.

2. Comment out these lines by adding a semicolon (;) at the beginning of each line so that they read ;LOAD= and ;RUN=.

3. Restart Windows.


1. Press CTRL+ESC to bring up the task list.

2. To quit each unnecessary application, select its name from the list of programs and choose End Task.

NOTE: Because many applications do not return all GDI memory to the system when they are closed, this method is less efficient for conserving GDI memory space than commenting out the LOAD= and RUN= lines in the WIN.INI file and restarting Windows.

  • Don't use third-party font packages. To disable any unnecessary font packages, check the system.drv= line in the [boot] section of the SYSTEM.INI file. If the line reads system.drv=system.drv, it is likely that no third-party font packages are installed. If it does not, use the proper method for disabling your particular font package and restart Windows.
  • Reduce the number of visible icons in Program Manager. Each visible icon uses GDI memory space. To display as few icons as possible, close program groups when they are not in use and/or reduce the number of icons in each program group.
  • Don't use background wallpaper. Wallpaper can use a fairly large amount of GDI memory space. To eliminate background wallpaper:

1. In Windows Control Panel, double-click the Desktop icon.

2. In the Wallpaper section, select (None) in the File box.

3. Choose OK to accept the change, and then close Control Panel.

  • Use a different video driver. Some very high resolution drivers (1024x768, 1280x1024, and so on) or drivers that use more than 256 colors (32K colors, 64K colors, 16.7 million colors) use extra GDI memory space. If your video card and monitor support it, use the standard VGA driver that ships with Windows. To change your video driver to standard VGA:

1. Run Windows Setup by double-clicking its icon in Program Manager.

2. From the Options menu, choose Change System Settings.

3. In the Display box, select VGA or VGA (Version 3.0).

4. Choose OK to accept the change. If Setup asks for a certain disk, insert that disk and follow the instructions on you screen.

The standard VGA driver will be installed when you restart Windows.

To Conserve GDI Memory in Microsoft Excel

  • Reduce the complexity of any open charts. For example, removing the legend, attached or unattached text, graphic objects (arrows, custom markers, drop shadows, and so on) will reduce the amount of GDI memory used in the open charts.
  • Hide all visible toolbars:

1. From the Options menu, choose Toolbars.

2. Then, select the name of a visible toolbar and choose the Hide button.

3. Once all toolbars are hidden, choose Close.

  • Reduce the complexity of any open worksheets. For example, removing borders, shading, and patterns from cells reduces the amount of GDI memory used, as does reducing the number of fonts used on the worksheets.

NOTE: Point sizes and faces take up additional memory. For example, Arial 10, Arial bold 10, and Arial 12 are considered different fonts because they possess different characteristics.

  • Remove any graphic objects from your worksheets, such as text boxes, drawn items (polygons, rectangles, lines), worksheet "snapshots" (generated with the Camera tool), and embedded charts.

NOTE: Drawn ovals may use a very large amount of GDI memory space.

  • When you print, use a lower-quality print mode by lowering print resolution or selecting the Fast But No Graphics check box in the Print dialog box.
  • Turn off or remove options such as scroll bars, the status bar, split windows, and the formula bar.

Additional query words: 2.10 3.00 4.00 5.00 system resources user menu gp fault gpf win31 wfwg win3

Keywords :
Version : 2.x 3.00 4.00 4.00a 5.00
Platform : WINDOWS
Issue type :
Technology :

Last Reviewed: April 5, 1999
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